In RE: Lewis v. Trump—A Thought Experiment

By | 2017-01-16T18:57:49+00:00 January 16th, 2017|
Print Friendly

It should be stipulated without reservation that U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was one of the most important civil rights heroes of the 1960s. He sacrificed not only his personal safety but helped to lead a movement that brought America into line with its own founding, ideals, and aspirations. As we commemorate the broad life and scope of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life today, it is beyond worthwhile to reflect  upon and learn (or re-learn) that history.

It should also be stipulated, however, that as “civil rights activist John Lewis” became “congressman and politician John Lewis,” his subsequent words and actions should be open to debate, questioning, and even criticism. Nothing he fought for in the 1960s should grant him immunity from the same kind of criticism every other elected or public figure is subject to when they make a bad call or wrong vote. Few, for example, hesitate to criticize Jesse Jackson for his political comments and actions, even though he, too, was a hero of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. And Martin Luther King, Jr.’s best friend and colleague, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, was certainly subject to a great deal of criticism within his own community when he endorsed Ronald Reagan for president.

This brings us to the dispute between John Lewis and Donald Trump. Lewis’s comment that Trump is not “a legitimate president” is both absurd and wrong. Any man or woman willing to subject himself or herself to the election processes, as well as the debating and voting processes of the U.S. House of Representatives, should be the first to recognize that when you say something controversial, you will and should be answered, if not criticized. I, for one, think John Lewis should be daily criticized for his opposition to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Lewis’s claim about Donald Trump’s legitimacy is based on Russian hacking of DNC emails. But a question few seem willing to ask, much less be able to prove is, “Is there a single vote that was moved from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump because of the release of those emails?”

A thought experiment on the impact of these emails: 1) Raise the issue with a Hillary supporter; heck, raise it with Trump supporter. 2) Then ask what the worst or most memorable leaked email stated. 3) My best guess is that most people (i.e., voters—not political professionals and journalists) will not be able to identify or recall the specificity of a single one. 4) Even if my guess is wrong, and the emails are recalled, follow up by asking if any of them changed their vote as a result of reading them. My bet is nobody changed their vote as a result of the Wikileaks releases and—entertaining and damning as they were—they changed the election outcome not one bit.

To my own mind, the one that sticks out the most is the one the professional journalist community seemed to care about the least: a CNN contributor using her position with CNN to help the Hillary campaign in debate preparation, revealing to the Clinton campaign the questions before the debate. After this was revealed, said CNN contributor, Donna Brazile, became the interim-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. But, again, that any of this changed one vote is likely untrue and wholly unprovable.

In the end, Lewis’s feeding the narrative that the president-elect is illegitimate is not only factually wrong, it perpetuates the corruption of our political discourse and the paranoid style of American politics that Democrats are usually the first to denounce. Are we not continually reminded that “democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity—the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together”? Of the necessity to occasionally “concede that your opponent might be making a fair point”? That we should not “make common ground and compromise impossible”? Those are President Barack Obama’s words from his farewell address last week.

Still, there are some who continue to embrace the Lewis line, writing that Donald Trump “will wear that scarlet ‘I’ on [his] tan chest for as long as [he sits] in the White House.” Others maintain that Wikileaks altered the outcome of the election. Both are wrong. Both require denouncing. And if the mainstream media—which was complicit in publishing the leaks—won’t call political leaders on this, Donald Trump has every right to. Personal and political history, after all—no matter how noble, no matter how crucial—does not constitute an indemnity from the First Amendment. And that’s a legacy of equality, too.

 

About the Author:

Seth Leibsohn
Seth Leibsohn is a Contributing Editor to American Greatness and is the host of The Seth & Chris Show, heard nightly on 960am/KKNT in Phoenix. You can connect with Seth on Twitter: @SethLeibsohn
  • jack dobson

    Good points. John Lewis the Sixties civil rights activist is not the same John Lewis who is a corrupt, lying congressman half a century later. Lewis has squandered all his moral capital at this point, with the last straw being his outright lie about Tea Party members calling him a racial epithet. Lewis has become a grotesque caricature of his former self, and personifies everything wrong with the modern Democrat Party. Trump needs to go directly into black neighborhoods and encourage voters never again to become subservient to the left-wing that wants them in a new form of slavery and to reject charlatans such as Lewis..

  • ricocat1

    John Lewis was a great Civil Rights fighter but that was 50 years ago. Now John Lewis should shuffle off to a nice quiet nursing home where no one will laugh at his obvious senility and dementia.

  • Captain Mann

    Lewis cashed in his heroics decades ago and is nothing but a fat, bigoted communist living off of the ignorance and desperation of his constituents. I would even go so far as call him a racist reactionary, but we don’t even know what “racist” means any more.

  • bdavi52

    Lewis is that sad, 76 yr. old guy…. still hanging around the one restaurant in town….having coffee & a doughnut with his collection of buds & hangers-on, who — every day — insists on recalling, once again, that glorious shot he took back on March 7, 1965, in that game against Alabama.

    It was a hell of a shot.
    It won the game and won the state tournament. No question. Made the guy a hero. Hell, we even named a street or two after him!

    But c’mon. It was a half-century ago. Maxwell Smart was saying, “Sorry about that, chief.” Troll dolls were big. Barbara Eden’s Jeannie was all the rage in her bikini.

    We’ve gone past all that.

    And yes, we will always remember that shot he took and the roaring of the crowd and the victory banner he helped us hang. We will always value his contribution that helped to make us what we are today (half century later). But for him to spend his time whining that the newest BBall Coach is “not legitimate” just because (despite the fact that 60M of us voted for him…and the Coaching College voted for him….and all the New Coach Hiring Rules were followed exactly) is not only silly…but childish & petulant and a betrayal of the very institution he represents.

    And for every criticism of his whining to be greeted by a chorus of voices crying, “Hey, remember that shot he took back in ’65!! That was an incredible shot. And he was double-teamed at the time!!!” is simply pathetic.

    You’d think, at 76, he would have more than a few chances to grow-up (perhaps learning how to lose gracefully??) — sadly & obviously, that too has passed him by.

  • caleb oldziewski

    In the run up to the election I was approached by more than a few people, privately, to express their support of Mr. Trump — support they would not voice around colleagues, or in “polite company.” Not one of them mentioned Wikileaks, or alluded to information contained in their release of DNC or Podesta emails.

    I’ve asked a small number of Hillary supporters I know to describe what impact they thought the Wikileaks “revelations” had on the election… The confidence they exude with their declarations that Russian hacking helped Trump electorally evaporates immediately when that follow-up question comes. There are blank stares, stuttering, and no small amount of huffing and puffing… But there are no answers. It’s not even something they’ve put any thought into.

    They were fed a premise, and they accepted it as truth. But then, this is their habit. It’s my experience that “Liberals” just aren’t equipped to deal with questions. They scan their trusted “news” sources for primers on what they’re supposed to believe and dutifully incorporate the new programming, rewriting the subroutines affected, and nowhere in this process is any actual thought involved.

    Viewing individuals like Lewis as beyond reproach is a natural consequence of the Left’s aversion to critical thinking — and it’s by design.

    Personal accomplishments, experiences, victories, contributions, etc. do not inoculate one from criticisms unrelated to an instance where, for example, a man get’s beaten by thugs acting on behalf of the State’s ruling party.

    John McCain’s view on a matter of public policy are not inherently correct because he was shot-down, imprisoned, and tortured while in service to the country. John Lewis’ view on race-relations in America doesn’t become impervious to scrutiny because 50 years ago he was vicitimized by racists in uniforms. The burden of proof is on him to make his views worthy of consideration, and making statements about today through appeals to an experience from half a century ago doesn’t rise to the level of a reasoned argument.

  • Sean✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

    It’s time to face facts. The last fifty years of American history have amply demonstrated that King sold us a bill of goods on Civil Rights.